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Las Vegas’s gambling industry is slowly getting back on track

Las Vegas
(© Katrina Brown –

Much to the dismay of the global gambling community, Las Vegas casinos were forced to shut down for most of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, barely over a year after its major shut down, the world-renowned casinos in Las Vegas are surging back and are reaching unprecedented numbers in terms of economic activity. It’s estimated that the state of Nevada netted around $1.36 billion in the month of July 2021 from gamblers. Many of these gamblers are either locals or tourists who have flocked back to Nevada from all over the world.

This huge number has come as a surprise to many, considering that COVID-19 is still ravaging many parts of the world, even in the United States. “We weren’t anticipating these type of numbers,” commented Michael Lawton, the senior analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. This is despite the fact that land based casinos were practically ghost towns in the middle of 2020.

Industry analysts attribute these record-breaking numbers to the perfect storm of events that took place in Nevada during July 2021. First, there was the Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier fight that saw McGregor’s defeat and likely final fight as a professional MMA fighter. There was also the Garth Brooks concert that took place at the newly minted Allegiant Stadium. Aside from that, marquee names like Usher and Bruno Mars returned to their musical residencies at the finest theaters of the Las Vegas Casinos. All of these events took place within a single month, but that’s not the only reason why analysts say that Vegas is experiencing a resurgence.

Ultimately, many experts believe that people are just a lot more confident now when it comes to gathering in public spaces for recreational activities. Despite the fact that the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is still ravaging various parts of the country, gamblers are now flocking back to casinos as they line up the various slot machines and baccarat tables around Vegas. In fact, the number of casino-goers has been rising uncomfortably high that Nevada officials have opted to reimpose indoor mask policies for all casinos.

The general mood in vegas is that people aren’t all that concerned with the virus anymore. Many tourists have either been inoculated with the vaccine or are just confident enough to wander through mass gatherings and public spaces without being afraid of getting sick. According to rough estimates presented by casino workers, many of the customers in Vegas mostly hail from the states of Texas and Florida.

According to Shawn Jones, a local promoter at the Resorts World Casino, the vibe of Las Vegas has returned to that of pre-pandemic levels. He says, “Maybe it’s the pent-up energy… if you ain’t able to do something for a while, then there’s a big rush when they are able to get out.”

At the height of the pandemic back in 2020, in an unprecedented move, Las Vegas casinos were forced to close for as many as 78 days. The state of Nevada itself largely relies on gambling-related revenues and this also dealt a huge blow to the employment situation of Nevada residents. Up until June 2021, strict capacity limits were put in place in order to minimize the spread of the virus. However, many reports say that even by the month of May, the Las Vegas strip was starting to return back to its old life prior to the pandemic.

According to city statistics, an estimated 3.3 million visitors flocked through the city of Las Vegas in July alone. This is just 10% below the number of visitors that visited Las Vegas in the same month of 2019. An additional detail to note is that international travel is still largely limited these days due to the pandemic.

Ultimately, as vaccines continue to roll out and as populations approach a healthy level of herd immunity, it’s likely that Las Vegas will see a return to normal much sooner than later. This will be much welcome news to Nevada residents who largely rely on the success of the gambling industry in order for them to have sustainable livelihoods. For the most part, it seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the gambling industry. Las Vegas is slowly getting back on track and it’s likely that the rest of the world will follow suit.

Story by Ethan Miller